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Nigerian Missionaries in Europe: History Repeating Itself or a Meeting of Modernities?

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This article discusses the question how to construct a vantage point from which to study the phenomenon of Nigerian missionaries in Europe. When theoretical frameworks extrapolating from the history of religion in western Europe are used to understand a religious network that originated in Nigeria, Nigerian missionaries and missionaries from the Global South inevitably appear as a case of history repeating itself and even as 'premodern.' In contrast, Africanist literature provides an understanding of the ways in which oppositions between tradition and modernity are constructed and used in Nigerian Pentecostalism that is very different. This literature however, does not provide ways to engage with the European contexts in which Nigerian missionaries operate. Therefore the article suggests that the encounter between Nigerian missionaries and European contexts might be most fruitfully conceptualized as a 'meeting of modernities' (inspired by Eisenstadt's notion of 'multiple modernities'), each implying a 'denial of coevalness.'

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